You found worms on your cat’s poop. But for one reason or another, you have not yet taken him to the vet for the appropriate treatment. The next time you checked your pet’s feces, you cannot find any signs of a worm infestation.
Cats cannot get rid of worms on their own?
No, cats cannot get rid of worms own their own. Sometimes, worm-infested cats are asymptomatic or do not exhibit the symptoms of an infestation. It is possible that your cat does not have worms on his poop or show other signs that he is infested with the parasite but he may still have worms in his body.
If you know that your cat has worms, you should take him to the veterinary clinic immediately for the proper treatment. It is also essential that you get your pet checked for worms at least once a year.
Like fleas and other parasites, parasitic worms do not magically disappear without proper treatment. Your cat cannot absorb these parasites or eat them. Worms may not be visible to you but there are other signs that can indicate an infestation.
Signs of a worm infestation in cats
Among the most common worms that infect felines are hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. Other worms that can infest cats include the bladder worm, liver fluke, heartworm, lungworm, and stomach worm. However, these parasites are not as common as the first group of worms.
Although some worm infestations can be asymptomatic, most cats exhibit different kinds of symptoms that you should watch out for as a responsible human to your cat.
Additionally, symptoms can vary, depending on the type of worm that has infested your pet. Listed here are some of the most common symptoms to watch out for.
1. Unexplained weight loss
Your cat has a healthy appetite but oddly enough, he has been losing weight steadily. If your cat has been losing weight, you should bring him to the vet to identify the underlying problem.
In worm-infested cats, weight loss is one of the most common symptoms. Essentially, the parasites in his body are robbing him of the nutrients he needs, making him lose weight along the way. Usually, this type of weight loss is accompanied by the presence of a distended stomach.
2. Diarrhea and other changes in bowel habits
Worm-infested cats often suffer from changes in their bowel habits. This includes diarrhea. If your cat shows signs of a change in his bowel habits and you notice that his stomach is distended, it can mean that he is infested by worms.
3. Rough coat
Cats are fastidious creatures, spending hours and hours grooming themselves. As such, it can be surprising to see your cat’s fur looking less than stellar. A coarse coat can be caused by various factors, including poor diet and stress. If you have eliminated other potential causes, you should go to the vet to have your pet checked for worms.
4. Behavioral changes
Aside from physical changes, you may also notice changes in your cat’s behavior. Worm-infested felines can sometimes be lethargic, lacking the energy and drive to do the things that they usually do like playing with you. Some infected cats can also scoot their butts on the floor because of the irritation caused by the worms.
5. Visible worms
But if there is one undeniable indicator that your cat is infested by worms, that would be seeing traces of the parasites on his poop, his butt, or even his bedding. The size of the worms will vary depending on their species. Usually, these parasites are white and you might find whole worms or segments of their bodies.
Over time, if the infestation is not treated, your cat may succumb to other conditions, including anemia, dehydration, low blood pressure, and weakness. Still, if your cat cannot get rid of the worms through the use of a dewormer, he can go into shock, or worse, die.
Worm larvae move throughout an affected cat’s body. Some wind their way into the internal organs like the liver, lungs, and stomach while others go to the eyes. During these movements, a cat can experience pain. This is because the tissues in these organs become inflamed.
Infected cats can experience belly pain due to the inflammation of the stomach. If the larvae travel to the eyes, your cat may have eye discharge and squint or rub his eyes excessively. In some instances, infested cats may show changes in their breathing patterns.
How cats get infected with worms
Both indoor and outdoor cats can become infested by worms. However, the risk of infestation is lower among felines that live indoors exclusively.
But how do cats get worms?
Cats become infested with worms by coming into direct contact with the worm eggs or fecal material containing these eggs.
For example, if you have a few cats at home an infected feline can transfer these parasites to your other pets. When the infested cat uses the litter box, the other pets can come into contact with the worm eggs as they step on the litter.
In such a scenario, the uninfected cat becomes infected through ingestion of the worm eggs. This happens when the previously uninfected cat licks his paws to groom himself. Inadvertently, he is taking the worm eggs inside his body. After the eggs have been ingested, they can stay in the cat’s stomach and hatch later on.
Cats can also get infected with worms after they step on infected dog poop. Some worms do not choose which animals to infest.
In the case of the tapeworm, its eggs can be transferred via a flea bite. When a flea bites an infested cat, the insect can transfer the eggs of the tapeworm to the previously uninfected cat.
A cat can also become infected with bacteria and parasites by eating raw meat and offal.
Outdoor cats can get worms by eating infected animals like mice and rats. Worms can live in the muscle tissues of infected animals and an outdoor cat can become infested by ingesting the worms and larvae upon consumption of these tissues.
How a worm infestation is treated
If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms in your cat, you should bring him to the vet immediately. At the clinic, the vet will ask you questions while examining your cat’s body.
It is also a good idea to bring your cat’s stool sample so that the vet can examine it. Examination of the stool sample will allow the veterinarian to determine what type of parasite has infested your pet.
To treat an infected cat, your vet can prescribe a dewormer, either in oral or injectable form. Dewormers can kill both adult worms and their larvae.
Some dewormers can be used for different types of worms. However, these medications should be administered properly to get the desired effects without compromising the cat’s overall health.
Additionally, some cats may require multiple doses of a dewormer to ensure that all the worms and their eggs and larvae are completely eliminated.
Some injectable dewormers work by paralyzing the worms. Once paralyzed, the worms let go of their hold on the intestinal walls, allowing the cat to eliminate the parasites as he moves his bowels.
After eliminating the worms, the vet may recommend the use of topical creams to kill fleas. As mentioned earlier, cats can become infested with worms after getting bit by fleas.
Why worm-infested cats should be treated immediately
The moment you see a symptom that your cat is infected by worms, do not wait and hesitate to bring him to the vet.
Left untreated, your pet can suffer or even die if the infestation persists for a long time. When the worm larvae move around your cat’s tissues and organs, they can cause a diverse number of problems. These include blindness, skin infections, convulsions, and respiratory problems.
Even more worrying is the fact that the worms that have infested your cat can transfer to you. People can become infested with the same parasites by coming into contact with infected feces.
For example, if your child plays on the ground where an infested cat recently defecated, he can get the same worms. You can also get infected by handling the litter box of your infected cat.
It should also be underscored that the best way to treat an infested cat is to use a dewormer. Although there are numerous DIY and holistic solutions that you can find online, there is no real guarantee that these will work 100 percent.
Preventing worms from infecting your cat
To prevent infection and transmission between cats and between you and your pet, good hygiene is critical.
Make sure that you clean the litter box daily and disinfect the box at least once a week. Change the litter regularly.
If you allow your cat to go outside, be sure to scoop up his feces as soon as you possibly can.
Your cat’s worms did not disappear
If you can no longer find worms on your cat’s feces, they did not magically disappear. There is no effective way to get rid of worms other than using a dewormer. The moment you notice the sign of a worm infestation in your cat, act fast, and get him treated
Image: istockphoto.com / Webkatrin001